I love this little cartoon. It just makes me smile. I can’t believe this weekend signals the last weekend in January. How can this be? How can January have gone by in a puff of smoke, like a magician’s trick?
This weekend brings with it a chance to hopefully catch our breaths from a hectic week and get a few things done around the house. Mainly taking down our Christmas decorations. Shhh! Don’t tell anyone that they’re still up. I just love seeing those twinkling lights, bathing the room in a cozy glow when it’s cold outside and still gets dark early. But, it’s time. We’re ready for everything to look refreshed.
And last, but not least, this weekend also brings with it the Chinese New Year celebrations and I’m very excited! So homemade pork dumplings and Chinese one-pot steamed chicken, vegetables and jasmine rice are on the menu.
Yesterday was a very long day and the only answer to it was: CAKE! I made this pumpkin pecan spice cake for dessert from a Williams-Sonoma mix. I frosted the top with tangerine infused cream cheese and a sprinkle of tangerine zest and chopped pecans for decoration. A slice of that and a cup of tea and all was right with the world again!
The frost laid so thickly on the ground in places this morning, it looked like snow. It was still dark when I set out and the fog had the world shrouded in secret. I felt almost as if I had crossed over into another world, a fairyland. The pond has been frozen solid for over three days and on my walk yesterday, I watched a man venture out on it, laughing as he stood there while his wife took his picture.
The woods were quiet today. I only passed one other person. The fog began to lift in places and the sky gradually turned a pearlescent pinky peach. I watched a muntjac slowly come out from under the branches and make his way across the path in front of me. Only to be swallowed up again by the brush on the other side.
I saw a fox this morning. He was trotting along the footpath and we stopped to watch each other for a few moments before he ran down a side path and carried on deeper into the woods. I spied a great tawny owl sailing through the trees and majestically land on a barren branch, his body blending in perfectly with the bark.
It was a magical walk indeed and a wonderful way to start the week.
I’m in the process of cleaning up my computer files and I’ve gone through thousands upon thousands of photos. I found these from a long ago visit to a English manor house and their gardens. It was early Summer and the blossoms were in full bloom. The scent was intoxicating as you made your way down the gravel paths. The bees were buzzing too and fro. The back of their legs were covered in golden hued humps of powdery pollen from their endeavours. The birds were flittering and the sun was playing peek-a-boo with the clouds. It was a magical day.
Today is “Blue Monday”. I didn’t wake up feeling blue. I was a ball of energy this morning. That continued during my walk, even though it was pouring and I was squish squashing my way down the street. And it continued as I attempted to scrub layers of mud off of myself in the shower from running through the woods.
But, my little balloon has slowly started to deflate this afternoon, as I discovered that a huge amount of files I had stored on a hard drive had been erased by the hard drive itself, while it was trying to make room for a back-up. I could have just cried. First world problems, right?
C’est la vie! I’ve made a cup of tea, I’ve lit my candles, I’m watching the rain from my window and I’m listening to Gregory Porter and just holding on.
We were lucky enough on a cold afternoon to find a cozy spot by the window at The American Pie Co. In a warmly lit space, by the glow of candlelight, we feasted in delight. We were slowly defrosted by mugs of hot chocolate and coffee. Mr. Michie got a slice of the deep dish cinnamon bread pie, glazed in a shimmering sweet drizzle and I got the pink peppermint pie. It was decadent and chocolatey and refreshing all in one bite.
We ventured out to Roskilde during this trip to see the Viking Museum and the Cathedral (which was the first Gothic cathedral to be built of brick in Scandinavia and a UNESCO World Heritage site). The town itself, is just charming. It was a Viking stronghold and became the capitol and center of Danish life during the Middle Ages.
We strolled from the train station down through town. There were lots of stops for window shopping and I just had to go in to one store in particular. It was a gorgeous place with a tea and cake shop on one side and beautiful gifts and antiques on the other. I was very good and just looked, but I could have bought out half the shop!
This was written on a plaque next to the Spring: St. John’s Spring was a holy spring, named after St. John the Baptist. The outflow as it appears today dates from 1834. In 1835 the 11m deep well was excavated. Numerous potsherds and two almost intact earthenware jugs were found, dating from the time when sick persons came to the spring to be healed.
We walked down to the Viking Museum first. As we neared a field just past the church, we could hear the sound of splashing water. We both looked around and discovered a spring. Not just any spring, but the Skt. Hans Kilde ( St. John’s Spring). This was one of three sacred springs within Roskilde. It was a popular pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages, because many of the sick, thought they would be healed by drinking the water.
As we approached the museum, the smell of the sea filled our nostrils. The front of the museum acts as a storage shipyard. Boats were covered for the winter and lined up along the path with descriptions written next to them. I fell in love with one boat from 1944, Brudpiga. It was a church boat that carried people from scattered villages and farms along the Siljan lake in Sweden to church on Sundays. It could hold up to 60 people. It had 20 oars and a crew of 22 men. My imagination was running wild after reading that sign. I am sure I was romanticising it within my head, but I had cozy visions of traveling in that boat by candlelight along the shores, gathering people and meeting friends, who you might not see again until the following week.
The architecture of the building housing the five ships was thoughtfully devised. You felt as if the boats and the sea blended into one. The outside and the inside working together in harmony. The Viking Museum was truly fascinating! It’s incredible that this discovery was even made and then the time it took to excavate and preserve it, is even more astounding. I can’t wait to go back in the Summer to watch them working on boats in the shipyard and if we’re really lucky to ride on one of the ships they take out into the fjord.
I couldn’t help but snap this picture of a picture, of one of the conservationist working on preserving the wood of the ships. Those glasses just rock!
A view over the bridge to the working shipyard and outbuildings.
We stopped for a snack in the cafe. I had hot chocolate and we split a piece of apple cake. The cafe’s menu is inspired by the Vikings. They use the same ingredients that were available during the Viking Age as well as those that were brought home from the Viking’s voyages. They strive to bring to life the five Skuldelev ships through food. I liked that. Food is important on so many different levels and to intertwine the past and the present was a lovely way of bringing the Vikings to life.
I loved this terracotta pink house with it’s green trim. It looked cozy inside.
Next stop was the Cathedral. We only had a short time in the Cathedral and we definitely needed longer. The sun was setting and the shadows that were created were both breathtaking and also eerie. The history within the church, it’s connection to the monarchy and to the artists who worked there piqued my interest.
Frescos c.1460, in the Chapel of the Magi
Tomb of the Scandinavian Queen Margrethe I.
Tomb of Christian IX and Queen Louise.
In the Christian IX chapel the three female figures that flank the double tomb of Christian IX and Queen Louise were designed by Edvard Eriksen. He was the creator of the famous Little Mermaid statue that sits in the harbour in Copenhagen. His wife was the model for these statues and you can particularly see that in the posing of the Little Mermaid and the central female figure at the tombs. We stayed until the bells chimed to signal the doors were closing for the night.
We walked back through town in the dark. The twinkle of Christmas lights glowing all around us. I couldn’t resist peeking through the gates of the convent to see their lights, a welcoming beacon on a frosty night. This city is on our list to keep exploring, there was just too much to see in a day! But, I’m not going to complain about that, it’s a good excuse to go back!
At this time of year, it is normally dark when we leave our house in the morning. It was dark this morning as Mr. Michie locked the door, we silently crossed the street to the glow of the streetlamp. As we walked along the High Street, I glanced across the road and suddenly grabbed Mr. Michie’s arm, bringing us to a halt.
There in all his glory was the most gorgeous, breathtaking, majestic fox, walking down the sidewalk. There were just a few cars driving down the road. He waited for a clear opening before he crossed over to our side and stood for a moment on the bridge. He turned and looked at us. Mr. Michie said, “Hello!”. He sat for just a split second and watched us, calmly; he wasn’t afraid. He slowly turned and padded over the bridge and around the bend.
He passed one of the train drivers coming up the hill and by the time we had made our way over the bridge, he had crossed the street and was heading for the staircase that would take him along the footpaths and back to the banks along the tracks.
It was a moving experience. Neither of us spoke, we just watched in reverence. I have a thing for foxes, I always have. To be so close to him was incredible. On one level I was in complete awe and on another, it saddened me to think that our worlds are so interlinked because we have encroached upon his.
I had a few chances to take a picture of him, but I couldn’t do it. It didn’t seem right. This was a moment to be savoured, to slowly devour, not to worry about snapping away or lining up the perfect shot. I looked for him all through my walk this morning as I made my way along the footpaths next to the tracks. I hope he made it home safely. Seeing him this morning, was like being given a gift. A tremendous gift.